Ephesians 1:1–14comment (0)
September 2, 2010
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: Ephesians 1:1–14
Explore the Bible
Professor, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
God’s Plan is Eternal
Although Christians believe God wants to save people, they may not understand why He designed a plan of salvation. Some may say it is because people are bad, sinners desperately needing salvation. Others may say God saves people because of who He is. He is love and will not turn His back on people in need of salvation. While these statements contain a measure of truth, they call attention to the human benefits while ignoring God’s eternal plan of salvation. God always intended to provide salvation through Jesus Christ. When God saves people, He reveals His nature. Thus, by saving people from their sin, God brings praise to Himself. Christians who understand this respond with additional praise to God. This week’s lesson identifies for us four facets of God’s eternal plan of redemption.
We Are in Christ (1–2)
The apostle Paul had invested a valuable portion of his ministry in the city of Ephesus. He made a brief stop there on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:18–19), and on his third journey, he stayed there for about three years as the gospel spread throughout Asia Minor (Acts 19:10). Later from Rome, where he was under house arrest, Paul wrote this letter we call “Ephesians.” The fact that there are several early manuscripts of this letter omitting the phrase “at Ephesus” tends to support the possibility that this was a circular letter, meaning it was originally sent to one church where copies were made and distributed to other churches in the region. Paul opened his letter with greetings to his readers, identifying them as being “in Christ.” He used “in Christ” or a similar phrase in his New Testament letters more than 160 times — more than 30 times in this letter. Here, as he most often did, Paul stressed with these words the close spiritual relationship of believers and the Lord Jesus, a dynamic and vital union that defines our identity. Christ provides the context in which we live and motivation for how we live.
We Are Blessed (3–6)
As part of His eternal plan, God has blessed Christians spiritually by choosing and adopting them as His children. The apostle said in the realm of spiritual reality, Christians have been thoroughly blessed by God in their relationship to Christ. Believers receive, at the moment of faith in Christ, every spiritual blessing God intends for them to have. By our association with the risen Christ, we have all the spiritual possessions we need for godly living. This means that God included us in His eternal plan of redemption for the purpose of holy living. He lovingly determined beforehand that those who trust Christ would ultimately be conformed to the character of His Son (Rom. 8:29). All this is reason to praise God for His lovingkindness granted to us in our spiritual union with Christ.
We Are Redeemed (7–12)
Redemption denotes deliverance or release of a person from slavery into freedom by means of the payment of a ransom. Here it refers to the believer being released from the bondage of sin into the freedom of God’s grace by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Redemption is always and only through Christ’s death (Col. 1:13–14). Not only does redemption provide the limitless grace of God and removal of sin but it also brings to the believer divinely bestowed spiritual understanding. Consequently believers are enabled to grasp something of God’s purpose in the unfolding of the ages and see the relevance of His purpose to the present.
We Are Sealed (13–14)
God has guaranteed that He will complete His eternal plan by sealing believers with the Holy Spirit. A seal indicates ownership, security, authenticity and authority. The Holy Spirit comes to indwell the believer and thus secures and preserves him or her in God’s eternal salvation. The Holy Spirit, who is Himself the seal, is God’s pledge to the believer of his or her future inheritance in glory. God is to be praised for the work of the Father in salvation (3–6), the work of the Son in salvation (7–12) and the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation (13–14).